In North Carolina, the minimum age for prosecuting a child for a crime has been increased from six years to eight years of age. This means that 8-year-olds can now face charges in juvenile court that would be equal to felonies in adult court. Yet, the law still requires that children be 10 years or older before they can face charges that would equate to low-level felonies or misdemeanors within the adult criminal court system.
Prior to this change in age, North Carolina had the lowest age minimum for prosecution of any state. It’s important to note that there are still twenty-nine states that have no minimum age set for prosecuting kids, while thirteen others have a minimum age of 10, 11, or 12. North Carolina’s new age increase is in line with Arizona, Nevada, and Washington. This small age increase will likely help as many as 1,000 children to avoid prosecution.
A Polarizing Issue
There are varying opinions in general as to whether or not children should even be prosecuted at all. Those against the prosecution of children argue that kids lack the ability to comprehend the consequences of their own actions – if they are even of an age where they have the ability yet to even know right from wrong. Furthermore, they have no understanding of the justice system and most likely are unable to assist in their own defense.
They also believe that in many cases in which a child was prosecuted, it should have never gone forward from the beginning. In fact, there have been kids who were arrested for picking flowers and others for breaking windows.
And while many child advocates are happy with the new change in the law, some believe that the age should continue to be pushed to an older minimum age since younger children are not old enough to understand the full repercussions of their actions on others.
Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Whose Child Has Been Charged with a Crime
It can be incredibly scary to learn that your child has acted in a manner considered to be criminal, and even more frightening to learn that he or she is going to be prosecuted under the criminal justice system. Not only the outcome of the case, but the experience itself can have a major impact on a child. That is why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you and your child to fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!